Milestones, Mary Moudy
March 24, 2018 at Happy, Texas in the home that…
E. Claude Gardner
E. Claude Gardner, 13th president of Freed-Hardeman University, died Dec. 31, 2017, in Jackson, Tenn.
“Dr. Gardner left an indelible mark on this institution,” said current FHU President David Shannon. “He led with strong authority while embodying compassion. His wisdom and success were bathed in godliness and faithfulness. For many of us, his blessings were not only institutional, but also personal. He knew our names and followed us beyond graduation.”
A mainstay of the university and of Henderson and Chester County for a half-century, Gardner joined the faculty as chairman of the Department of Education and Psychology and as a Bible teacher. He served as registrar, dean, vice president, president, chancellor and president emeritus, retiring in 1992.
Milton Sewell, who followed Gardner as president, called Gardner “an outstanding Christian gentleman and a visionary. He was committed to God and His church, his family, Freed-Hardeman and the Henderson community. As president, he was committed to excellence and what was best for students. He will be missed by so many of us who loved and appreciated him.”
Gardner preached his first sermon at age 15. Throughout his life, he preached for congregations in the U.S. and abroad. He conducted more than 375 gospel meetings.
Gardner was preceded in death by his wife Delorese Tatum Gardner, who died in 2001 after more than 50 years of marriage, and by his second wife Glenda Jacobs Gardner, who died in 2016.
Vernon was a member of the Church of Christ from his early youth, teaching Bible classes, leading singing, overseeing building maintenance and upkeep, and supporting missions of congregations in the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles.
He attended Oklahoma Christian College from 1961-1963, until he was drafted into the Army Medical Corps.
Vernon followed the family tradition as a farmer and cattle-man recognized for outstanding soil conservation practices and serving on agricultural committees.
He served on the local school board and boards of numerous other community service organizations.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley, and is survived by their son, John.
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